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Pet Nutrition: Feeding Your Dog For A Lifetime Of Health

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Pet nutrition is part of keeping your furry friend healthy. You know that your dog needs protein, carbs and—what else? Your dog's nutritional needs may not be the same as another pup's. Depending on the size, age, activity level, and breed, your dog may need different types or amounts of food. What should you take into consideration when choosing your dog's diet? Check out these tips to keeping your playful pet healthy, happy, and well fed.

Go to the Pro

Your dog's veterinarian spent years in school learning about animal health. When the ads, commercials, and promises that pet foods claim start making you feel dizzy, go to the expert source. Does your dog really need an all-organic diet? Should you look for a completely grain-free food? Your vet has examined your dog, knows your pup's health status, and can help you make an informed decision. Think about it—the pet food company doesn't know about your dog's health history. That means some of their "claims" may not actually benefit your pet. Let the professional help you to make a pick that's perfect for your pet.

Make Age Adjustments

It's not likely that your second grader eats the same amount or the same kind of food as your 2-month-old. Right? The same is true for your dog. Proper pet nutrition takes your dog's age into account. Puppies need twice the amount of energy (from food) to grow, according to the ASPCA. This doesn't mean that your pup needs to double up on the amount of food he eats. Instead, it's likely that he'll need a special puppy food that has between 25 and 30 percent protein. The amount of energy your dog needs from food may decrease as your pet ages. That said, some large breed and high energy dogs may still need higher calorie intakes as they age.

Say No to Table Scraps

It's tempting to hand over the leftover steak from your meal out to your pet. After all, it is called a "doggie bag." When it comes to "people food," your dog needs to take a pass. Pet food is specially formulated for dogs (and the lasagna that you just dropped on the floor certainly isn't). Aside from what's in the food, adding table scraps to your dog's can drastically increase the overall calorie intake and make it challenging to truly know how much your dog is eating. This can lead to obesity.

If that doesn't sell you on nixing table scraps, some human foods are actually harmful to pets. For example, chocolate and caffeine products can cause serious tummy troubles or even seizures; onions and garlic can cause red blood cell damage; and macadamia nuts may cause tremors, weakness, or depression in your dog.

Making healthy feeding choices for your dog is key to proper pet nutrition. Start at the vet's office, and go from there. After the pro helps you to pick a food, make sure to adjust (or ask about adjusting) amounts based on your dog's age and energy needs. A nutritious diet helps your dog to stay fit right now and throughout his life. Contact a company like Clayton Veterinary Associates to learn more.